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Most Websites Have Serious Vulnerabilities To Attack, Study Says

Large sites have an average of 13 serious vulnerabilities; smaller sites have slightly fewer
Ever wonder how likely it is that your website could be hacked? A research firm issued a report today that might offer some insight -- and the news isn't good.

According to a study published by WhiteHat Security, the average website has 13 "serious" vulnerabilities -- vulnerabilities that would be given high, critical, or urgent severity in a Payment Card Industry (PCI) audit.

Some of the other key findings in the study:

  • The banking, insurance, and healthcare industries performed the best overall, with an average of five, six, and eight vulnerabilities, respectively. The worst were the IT, retail, and education sectors, with averages of 24, 17, and 17.

  • Large organizations (more than 2,500 employees) had the highest average number of serious vulnerabilities, totaling 13, followed by midsize (150 to- 2,500 employees) at 12, and small (up to 150 employees) at 11.

  • Since last year's report, cross-site request forgery has moved up to fourth place as one of the most prevalent vulnerability classes. A new vulnerability, brute force, moved into tenth place, affecting 10 percent of websites.

  • Industries with a greater average number of serious vulnerabilities tend to have worse remediation rates. Small organizations fix the most of their serious vulnerabilities by percentage (62 percent), followed by midsize (58%), and large (54%).

    It does not appear organization size significantly impacts an industry's average number of serious vulnerabilities, the type or degree of specific vulnerability classes, or their time-to-fix metrics, according to the report. However, remediation rate does seem to correlate. Typically, the larger the organization, the fewer vulnerabilities they resolve by percentage.

    The telecommunications, retail, and healthcare industries had the three best remediation rates of large organizations, with 67 percent, 60 percent, and 58 percent, respectively. The three worst were IT, banking, and insurance with 32 percent, 35 percent, and 35 percent.

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